Another 6 Story Building in Columbia City? Design Review Meeting TONIGHT

Sorry for the lack of posts the past few weeks…I’ve been out of town. Here’s an important one:

UntitledRecently, proposals have emerged for a new project at 5201 Rainier Ave–the site of a current car lot. The project is a big one–proposing 128 apartments, 2000+ square feet of retail, and would most likely require a change in zoning due to height restrictions.

The Design Review Board meeting for the project is tonight at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center at 6:30. 

Active Columbia City neighbor, Scott A., has this long write-up on the project the Columbia City Facebook page:

This is relatively long post so here’s the quick recap – 6 story apartment building proposed where the car mechanic lot is at 39th and Rainier. If you want to influence the Design Review Board’s opinion of the project in any way you need to write noting the project number and/or address OR show up at the Tuesday meeting to speak about the project. If you think of the new PCC/Angeline Apartment building as the north “bookend” of Columbia City then this project would be (for better or worse) the south “bookend” as it would be the same height if rezoning is approved.

Update on 5201 Rainier Ave S. – possible upzone and 128 unit apartment building with 55 parking spaces and 2,057 sf of retail space.
This afternoon the Early Design Guidance packet of plans was posted by DPD that will be reviewed by the Southeast Design Review Board next Tuesday at 6:30 pm at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center.
Link to meeting details:…/…/DesignReview/Detail/default.aspx…

Direct link to early design proposal:…/…/DRProposal3018378AgendaID5502.pdf

Images included with this post are snapshots of the pdf linked above. All three concepts are currently not allowed by the 40′ zoning of this land. Concept C is the preferred concept by the applicant. The developer has only submitted designs that assume 65′ zoning will be approved someday by the city. The project may require more than one Early Design Guidance review, then it has at least one “Recommendation” meeting where the Board signs off on the design.

The 55 parking spaces represent a less than 0.5 spaces per apartment ratio. Page 14 of the pdf mentions “frequent transit” when referring to required parking counts. Opinions vary greatly as seen here on the CC group page about whether parking should be abundant or scarce, but what is really interesting is the City Hearing Examiner ruled on a West Seattle case some months ago that the definition of “frequent transit” service was being misinterpreted by DPD. Just across Rainier Avenue from this site is a Pearl Street remodel proposal where a DPD reviewer recently cited this Hearing Examiner ruling when telling that applicant Rainier Ave bus service doesn’t currently meet the new interpretation of frequent transit. Therefore, as I understand the details, one parking space per unit is the basic requirement when not in a Station Overlay District (which for Columbia City is very close to the Link light rail station).

West Seattle Blog story on the Hearing Examiner ruling from December:…/citys-no-parking-necessary-if…/

Seattle Transit Blog coverage in March of an updated Director’s Rule:…/action-alert-write-in-supp…/

DPD review comments about a small remodel at 3916 S. Pearl Street that would replace 6 carport parking stalls with 3 apartments may be denied in part because “frequent transit service” definition isn’t met by Rainier Ave S. bus schedule.…

This property had a 4-story (zoning compliant) project approved back in the 2007/2008 era. Its description was: “four live/work units and 1,729 sq. ft. of retail at ground level with 59 apartments above. Parking for 60 vehicles to be provided.”

To make the biggest impact with your comments to DPD staff or the Design Review Board reference design guidelines mentioned in this document:…/doc…/web_informational/p2083771.pdf

Also note that the design of the Angeline Apartments was reviewed and approved by the Columbia City Landmarks Board, not the Southeast Design Review Board. Totally different entities due to the geographic boundaries of each.

See you at the meeting! I’m looking forward to making this project as good as it can be if it happens at all.

Scott Amick's photo.
UPDATE: According to one who was in attendance: “The result of tonight’s meeting was that the Design Review Board did not approve the project to proceed to the next permitting step. The applicant will be coming back to the Board for another Early Design Guidance meeting. Great comments from neighbors were heard that will make for a better project on a very prominent site.”

One thought on “Another 6 Story Building in Columbia City? Design Review Meeting TONIGHT

  1. eMoov says:

    Columbia city has been building a lot recently. And this new building will surely be worth an investment in the field of real estate. Let’s wish for the success of this project.

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